Government bills are managed through the Legislation Programme. At the end of each year, Ministers are invited, through a Cabinet Office circular, to put in proposals (bids) to include bills in the Legislation Programme for the upcoming year. The Legislation Programme comprises groups of existing or proposed government bills in descending priority order.
The priorities given to bills for a calendar year are as follows:
- Category 1: must be passed or introduced in the year as a matter of law;
- Category 2: must be passed in the year;
- Category 3: to be passed if possible in the year;
- Category 4: to be passed under extended sitting hours;
- Category 5: to be referred to a select committee in the year;
- Category 6: instructions to be provided to PCO in the year;
- Category 7: on hold;
- Category 8: not to proceed.
These bids are compiled by the Legislation Co-ordinator in the Cabinet Office (use the PSI Cabinet contact page or search CabNet), and submitted to the Cabinet Legislation Committee (LEG) for a decision on which bills are to be included in the Legislation Programme, and the priority that they will be given. There is a form that should be used when seeking priority for bills on the Legislation Programme.
If, during the year, Ministers would like to have bills drafted that are not on the Legislation Programme, they must make a bid for a priority at the earliest possible time. This bid should include the information contained in the form.
The Legislation Programme is amended as demands on the government change, new issues arise requiring legislation, and priorities change over time. Further information on the Legislation Programme is in paragraphs 7.6 to 7.15 of the Cabinet Manual.